Archive for October, 2012

The Laughing Cyclist

Posted: October 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

Sometimes people make a lasting impression on you and you remember them long after you’ve lost touch or after they have died. Duane Delaney was such a person.  Duane was a draughtsman in my first proper job in the world of engineering and I had the pleasure of getting to know him many many moons ago.

He was happy, red faced guy, always quick to laugh his ass off.  Always quick to play a trick on someone, he ate way too much salt, by G-d did he.  He was kind and generous to a fault.  I remember once, I had a really really bad tooth ache and was sitting at my drawing board in the office almost crying with pain.  Painkillers were doing no good.  Duane was a bit of a tooth ache sufferer too and noticing, (t was hard not to), my discomfort, he went down to his bike, hopped on it and cycled home, reappearing half an hour later with various potions and salves.  “Try these” he said, “Give them about half an hour to work”.

Sure enough, within the allotted time, I was as right as rain. “Hold on to that stuff, till you get to a dentist” was what he said when I offered his medicine chest back.  That was some he didn’t have to do and the impression of it,well it obviously lasts to this day.

I mentioned he cycled home, well I’ll get back to that, Duane and his bike.  Another time at the office Christmas party, poor old Duane got so drunk I had to bring him home in a taxi because the taxi driver wouldn’t take him on his own.  I had to go “guarantor” for him.  In fairness, three pints of beer was Duane’s normal limit, drink wasn’t high on his list of priorities,which is where we get back to the cycling.

Duane was obsessed with bikes.  He was a member of the Ravens club if I remember correctly and every chance he got he was racing.  In 1992, all of us “draftys” were seconded from the company we worked for to an Irish contractor involved in the fit out of the Hotel de Las Artes in Barcelona.  Myself and another bunch of lads went out in the first and second wave of “grunts” and a few months later, more lads followed.  On the day Duane was arriving, I was (happily), dispatched to the airport to pick him up and bring him to where we were staying.  I toddled out to the airport, sat back in the bar at arrivals with that days copy of the Irish Times and had myself a few, ahem, coffees, shall we say.  Duane’s flight landed and I headed over to the gate to see him, big smile plastered across his face, strolling along…wheeling his bike.  He saw me, came over, shook my hand, I looked at the bike and said…”For fucks sake, how the Jaysus are we going to get that back to the apartment?”.

We walked over to the train station where the man looked at the bike and shook his head.  We walked back to the Bus stop where the man looked at the bike and shook his head.  We walked over to the taxi rank where the man looked at the bike and shook his head.

“We’ll have to have a drink” says I, “and give this some thought”. One, (or two), drinks later, Duane suggested I get a taxi and that he cycle along beside. I considered this, thought about the 3 or 4 lane motorway from the airport in and, well if I’m honest considered it again before discounting it.  I suggested we leave the bike at the airport and get someone with a van to pick it up later which a horrified Duane immediately discounted.  We tried out luck and the train, bus and taxi men again and then after a couple of hours, (and a few more drinks for me), Duane said, “Hey, I could just take the wheels off, look they just clip out”.  I need not tell you, I could have kicked him the length and breath of the Ramblas.

He took off the wheels and a taxi man welcomed us on board with open arms.  All the way in Duane laughed and such an infectious laugh it was. Pretty soon, both I and the taxi man where laughing our nads off and the poor old taxi man didn’t even know what he was laughing at.

Duane died in Australia in 1998.  He was knocked down while competing in a cycle race, his old cycling club hold a memorial event every year in his honour and I think no higher honour could befit him.  Duane was one of life’s genuinely nice people, as I mentioned above, a kind soul, a funny soul.  Duane, your family will always remember you, your club will always remember you and where ever you are now, I hope you know that I and your old friends from work will always remember you too.  Happy trails my friend.